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Rusting Sculpture Removed

Jurors selected to oversee city exhibit

After careful deliberation over whether to save “Cathexis,” a metal sculpture by Steven Harmon located at Laguna Beach’s well-used Riddle Field, the Arts Commission voted unanimously to dispose of the piece due to safety considerations.

Resembling intertwined scrolls, the sculpture had been a magnet for kids to climb and sit upon. It had been donated to the city by an artist not versed in the unique demands of public art works and had rusted both inside and out and was thus deemed a safety hazard.

During attempts to restore it, an outside expert discovered that indepth rust removal and other attempts at restoration would, in fact, doom it.

The commission, which met last Monday, also debated having the piece rebuilt to original artist specifications. But, since Harmon is deceased, the commission determined that the process would counter definitions of originality in art as specified in rules governing Laguna Beach public art.

The commission voted unanimously to re-gift the work to Alice Harmon, the artist’s mother. However, de-accession is a process governed by complex rules that specify among others that the piece be beyond repair and would pose a public hazard.  The sculpture was removed last week.

The exact fate of “Cathexis,” including the name plate accompanying it, will be decided by the City Council at a future date.

The commission also selected a three-member jury for this year’s “Art that is Small at City Hall” competition. Salt Fine Art gallery owner Carla Tesak-Arzente, artist Jeff Horn and Laguna College of Art and Design instructor Brad Coleman will judge two-dimensional works that are 12 inches tall or smaller in a broad range of mediums including oil, watercolor and photography.

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